Celebrities set to party during Comic-Con

Lifestyle and LeisureBars and ClubsDining and DrinkingWarner Bros.Public TransportationLea MicheleLake Bell

SAN DIEGO - After a dizzying spell of hype over Comic-Con 2012, aren't you ready for a drink? Fanboys and famous people sure are, so here's a breakdown of the velvet rope happenings in San Diego this weekend.

Friday: Actors Edi Gathegi and Christian Serratos (of the "Twilight" saga) join other invited celebs on the Patrón Express Railcar, leaving Los Angeles' Union Station before noon and traveling in style to downtown San Diego. Riders enjoy a restored train car with a gourmet kitchen, a home theater, an observation area and plenty of tequila en route.

Once there, folks sail to Wired magazine's annual daytime cafe, offering booze at a bar inspired by HBO's "Game of Thrones" and nerdy perks such as an XP and 3-D glasses demo. The shop stays open through Sunday for VIPs.

Saturday: After A-list panels for the likes of "Iron Man 3" (please, Gwyneth Paltrow, come to Comic-Con and be photographed with a storm trooper), Entertainment Weekly puts on its exclusive fete at Float nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel. Young things such as TV's latest hard-bodied hero Stephen Amell of "Arrow" will mingle with expected celebs such as Lea Michele and Cory Monteith, Lake Bell, Norman Reedus, Nathan Fillion, "The Hunger Games" star Alexander Ludwig and Henry Winkler.

Also at EW, the sexy beasts of "True Blood" will be represented by Nelsan Ellis, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammel and Deborah Ann Woll. A nitrogen ice cream station will fog up the joint while partygoers enjoy interactive dancing stations from Ubisoft's "Just Dance 4." Even the supernatural need help with their footwork.

Can't get on a list? Then join the costumed masses and have a blast, cape and all. On Friday and Saturday, the Superhero Pub Crawl takes you on a drinking tour of the Gaslamp District. Costumes are required, superhuman powers are not. Tickets start at $10, and festivities kick off at 4th Avenue's Taste & Thirst. Find tix at pubcrawls.com, or call (212) 724-3900.

The wildly popular pop culture extravaganza kicked off in downtown San Diego Thursday after San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders held an opening ceremony at the San Diego Convention Center.

"This is the best people-watching week of the year in San Diego,'' Sanders said. "As mayor, I certainly love that it brings in visitors from all over the world, who spend millions of dollars here staying at our hotels, eating at our restaurants and buying all sorts of things.''

The four-day trade show runs through Sunday. It unofficially began Wednesday evening, with an invitation-only "Preview Night'' event.

About 126,000 people are expected to attend this year's sold-out Comic- Con. The event feeds tens of millions of dollars into the local economy.

Among Thursday's highlights are a spotlight on "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2,'' including preview footage of the new film will be shown, beginning at 12:45 a.m. in Hall H -- the center's largest room. Fans of the "Twilight'' series have been lined up outside the center since Sunday.

Also on tap are a panel on "The Witty Women of Steampunk,'' a presentation by DreamWorks animation CEO Bill Damaschke, and a 4 p.m. news conference with composers Blake Neely and Christopher Lennertz, who will be featured on "The Characters of Music'' panel two hours later.

On Saturday afternoon, Warner Bros. Pictures and partners Legendary Pictures, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will showcase a number of upcoming releases in Hall H. Warner Bros. executives promise surprises for fans during the presentation.

The program highlights include a preview of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,'' directed by Peter Jackson. The Oscar Award-winning director is scheduled to appear at the preview, along with stars Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis.

Authorities have strongly encouraged attendees to use public transportation to go to the event. The Metropolitan Transit System has expanded its service and is selling special Comic-Con daily transit passes. Also being offered is free shuttle service between the Convention Center and hotels downtown, in Mission Valley, on Harbor Island and Shelter Island.

The move worked and organizers decided to remain in San Diego until at least 2015. The city is promising to complete an expansion of the Convention Center by then, in part to keep Comic-Con and also to attract other major trade shows.

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Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Donnelly contributed to this story.  
matt.donnelly@latimes.com


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